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Arrow 100 Lakeview Canyon Rd. Westlake Village, CA 91362 Volume XLVII

I Issue 4 I March 12, 2021

Diversity in movies

pages 8–9

Changes to AP testing

#FreeBritney movement

page 3

page 12

Winter guard virtual competition page 19

In this issue

4 5 13 16

Science building construction progresses Year of COVID–19 Potential prom to send off the seniors Negative impacts of cancel culture

Our staff

editors–in–chief songhee lee, lauren pak & lindsey romano web editors–in–chief kyra berg & abigail thompson news section editors angela ling & allan tieu feature section editor soumya monga A & E section editor abigail thompson A & E page editor makenna norman opinion section editor sophie robson

opinion page editors makenna norman, vivian stein & harrison weinberg sports section editor owen kobett sports page editor vivian stein graphics editor angela ling

Letter to our readers Dear Warriors, We bring you our last digital issue to express a topic that is quite personal to us. Since the introduction of COVID–19, with its origin in China, there has been an exponential increase in the number of Asian hate crimes. People have been and are continuing to take this fact and generalize it to the entire Asian community, making them a scapegoat to blame the pandemic on. However, the extent to which COVID–19 has affected our lives can not be pinpointed to the Asian community, because it is entirely dependent on the way the nation, governments, authorities and individuals have managed COVID–19 (protocols and preventative measures). And with the necessary rise of the Black Lives Matter movement, it should be blatant to everyone that racism against any race is unacceptable. The Black Lives Matter movement should not be taken as a “trend” in which individuals support it until it dies down. The mentality that we as a nation should stand up for the voiceless, the disenfranchised and the minorities must be applied to every single race, in this case Asians. Although the media is doing the minimum to cover the multitude of Asian hate crimes that have occurred this pandemic season, oppression to an entire race can not go unnoticed. People projecting their frustration from living in a pandemic onto Asians through beatings and murders, and making casual “jokes” about Asians eating dogs or bats or simply mocking Asian people’s eyes by pulling theirs back just goes to show how pertinent internalized racism is and how ignorant so many people can be. It is unfair to cherry pick and romanticize certain parts of Asian culture like its beauty, anime, food, k–dramas and fashion, but in turn refuse to support the community and speak out in times of need. If you support Asian culture, you support all of it, not just parts of it that are "trendy." A large reason for the current increase in Asian hate crimes and racism in general is the misunderstanding of how unique and special each race and culture truly is. Just because the traditions of a certain culture may be different than your own does not mean that there is no value or meaning to it. We write this not only to call attention to what is so wrongly happening to Asians, but to remind everyone to take the extra second to understand where someone comes from and how their background has shaped them into who they are. With a more understanding attitude, we can only hope that the senseless violence purely based on one’s race can soon be a thing of the past. In a worldwide pandemic, the only way to truly get through this time is by acceptance and love, not hatred and blame. Now that you’ve read our letter, we urge you to take action. Do not bypass this issue, but spread awareness. This has become too widespread for the media to continue to ignore it. As always, we want our publication to represent the voices of the student body, so feel free to share your ideas or concerns with us at Signing off, Songhee Lee, Lauren Pak & Lindsey Romano The Editor Team 2020–21

photo editor alyssa rice business manager margaret teegarden adviser karie lynch

The Arrow is written, designed and run by the students of the Advanced Journalism and Journalism 1 CP classes at Westlake High School. The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the writers and do not necessarily represent those of the Conejo Valley Unified School District, Westlake High School administration, faculty or student body. We welcome feedback. Letters must be signed by the writer. Cover design by Lauren Pak

AP testing fast facts The first at school administration of AP tests will be May 3–7, 10– 12, 14 and 17. The second administration, either at home or at school, will be May 18–21 and 24–28. The final administration at home will be June 1–4 and 7–11.

National Honors Society accepting application

AP tests will be full– length this year unlike the 45 minute 2020 exam. Source:


At WHS, four tests will be only in–person: the World Languages, Chemistry, Calculus AB and Physics.

College Board will offer live online review sessions from April 19–30. GRAPHIC BY OWEN KOBETT

AP Exams adapt to challenges

The AP exams are fast approaching for this year. Several changes have been made to adapt the test experience to the COVID–19 restrictions that are still in place. by owen kobett sports section editor This year, the College Board is offering three administrative periods for the upcoming AP tests. WHS has decided to use the first two periods to schedule their tests, and these tests will be either administered only in–person or only online. “Certain exams must be administered via paper & pencil at the school, including World Languages, Chemistry, Calculus, Physics, Music Theory and Statistics due to the use of hearing devices, complex formulas, etc." wrote Becky Mertel in an email to the Arrow staff. "All other AP subjects may be administered remotely and at home. The third administration is reserved for makeup exams due to illness, IT difficulties, etc.” The administration date of AP tests could greatly affect how much time students get to review topics. This could affect what method of study they decide to use. “For the classes in Quarter 1 and Quarter 3, I might have to do a significant amount [of] self– studying,” said Jeremy Zide ‘22. “The AP tests are in June this year, so we’re going to have a pretty sizable break in between.” The procedure for in–person tests will be similar to the PSAT’s where fewer students will be in each classroom. The in–person tests are expected to move back to the full curriculum this year. “I did take the PSAT, and I thought the format was fine because they split everyone up,” said Abhinav Pomalapally ‘22.

“I thought it was really similar to how it was when I took it last year.” Most of the AP tests will still be online; however, the testing period will be longer than last year because last year’s tests were only a single 45 minute question versus multiple 40 minute questions in years past. “I think I prefer it online because I remember when I had the test for AP Human Geography that was a three or four hour process,” said Zide. “Last year when I had the AP European History test, that was 50 minutes all said and done.” With this year being the second year of a partially online testing format, a common question has been how this will affect colleges’ perspectives on the tests. Colleges such as the UCs have expressed some doubt about accepting tests like SATs and APs due to a combination of continued COVID–19 effects and questions about the need for the tests. “I think that a lot of colleges are starting to phase out the College Board in general,” said Caitlyn San ‘21. “It seems like both students and colleges are coming to a consensus that there are better ways to score and measure a student’s abilities rather than these tests. " On March 1, the school received the results of a Google form that tallied all the students who are expected to be taking AP exams. This is the same date the school charged a discounted $10 cancellation fee for AP exams. “We worked with teachers to accommodate every kid,” said Heather Godfrey. “However, we expect less students to take the exam.”

National Honors Society, a distinguished club for students who display outstanding performance in the areas of scholarship, service, leadership and character, is accepting application for the 2021-2022 school year. Applications are due by April 15, 2021 at 3 p.m. The link to the NHS form can be found at ents/NHS/National%20Honor%20Society%20ap plication.pdf

Students receive PSAT scores The PSAT was held in classrooms across the country on Jan. 26, 2021. Due to the College Board’s 4–6 week policy on returning scores, PSAT students are expected to receive their scores by March 8, 2021. Students should check their email accounts for a message from the College Board with instructions on how to access scores through the student's College Board account.

WHS launches new Patient Care Pathway WHS will offer a new Patient Care Pathway for students in grades 10–12 who are interested in pursuing a career in health and medical sciences. The Pathway will launch in the 2021– 22 school year. For more information, see your counselor.

Quarter 3 finals schedule Quarter 3 finals are scheduled for 3rd period on March 24, 1st period on March 25 and 2nd period on March 26. Cohort A has finals from 8–9:45 a.m. and cohort B has finals from 10:15 am–12:00 p.m. NEWS 3

Science building continues construction throughout school year The new WHS science building will feature larger classrooms and new learning areas on the roof and around the building. It is estimated to be finished towards the end of 2021.


CONSTRUCTING THE BUILDING: The new science building will have 11 classrooms, a staff room, staff restroom and student restrooms throughout the building. The learning area on the roof will be available for teachers and students through the staircase on the left side of the building while other outdoor learning areas will surround the building. The new science building is estimated to be completed by November or December of 2021.

by allan tieu co–news section editor The construction of the new science building is progressing swiftly throughout the school year and is scheduled to be finished in November or December of 2021. The initial push towards the construction of the building was because of the way classes around the WHS campus are structured. English classes are typically in Building 4, floor 2, and math classes are typically in Building 4, floor 3. However, there has never been a specific location for the science classes, and many of the rooms are not designed for the labs and experiments that take place in a science class. “We’ve realized that the science classrooms that we’re using right now are not true science classrooms, although our teachers have done a phenomenal job,” said Principal Jason Branham. “Our students deserve better classrooms that have the appropriate lab space and tools." The three–story building will have 11 classrooms, a new chemistry storage room, a staff room and restroom, student restrooms and outdoor learning areas around the building. “I am looking forward to the outdoor learning areas and being able to teach outside to my AP Environmental Science class,” said Jennifer Boyd, Science Department Chair and AP Environmental Science teacher. “My room will be on the first floor, so being able 4 NEWS

to go outside and return with my class easily will allow us to save a lot of time. It will also allow us to be outside more often, and I think my students will really enjoy that.” The first floor will have three classrooms and student restrooms. The second floor will have four classrooms, a staff room and a staff restroom. The top floor will have four large chemistry classrooms with the chemistry storage room connected to all four classrooms. “I am usually in charge of ordering supplies and getting things organized,” said CP and Honors Chemistry teacher Lori Cord. “The [new storage room] will make my life so much easier.” There will also be an additional learning area on the roof of the building where teachers can take their students from time to time. “Teachers could take the class up there if there was an outdoor learning activity,” said Branham. “Maybe we can experiment with astronomy or some of those different things from up there as well." One issue with the current science classrooms is that they are too small and there is not enough space to properly conduct labs and experiments. In the new building, the rooms will be bigger and the tables will have wheels on them, making it easier to rearrange the classroom to fit the needs of the class. The new rooms might also have chairs where students can hang their backpacks to clear up more space and to minimize tripping them over, improving safety.

"I am excited about how much space we’re going to have because we were so cramped in our tiny classrooms,” said Boyd. “I think having the flexibility to rearrange the rooms in so many different variations will allow [the science teachers] to be so much more creative in their lessons, allowing them to try new things and try to make the groups a little bit different." Aside from the more spacious rooms, the new classrooms will be equipped with touchscreen TVs instead of projectors, so students can see the screen from anywhere in the room. Electrical outlets will also come from the ceiling and various spots around the rooms in order to be compatible with current and future technology. “This will support any new technology we might use in the next 40 years,” said Boyd. All science classes will be moved into the new building except for physics. There will not be enough rooms for physics, so all physics classes will take over the old chemistry rooms in Building 4. Aside from that, the new science building will give the science department the appropriate workspace and tools to enhance their teaching and their students' ability to learn. “I think that for our teachers and our kids coming out of these difficult 12 months, this will be kind of like a shining bright light that’s really going to help,” said Branham. “I think that this is going to be another thing that really sets us apart and really allows us to stand out as one of the best schools.”

Corona–versary: WHS community adapts to COVID–19 one year later One year ago, the COVID–19 virus sent the world into lockdown as many aspects of life grinded to a halt. This past year has been one of overcoming obstacles, and that is exactly what WHS students did. PHOTOS BY ALYSSA RICE

by alyssa rice photo editor March 13, 2020. The last day of normalcy. In March 2020, the Conejo Valley was thrown into a world health crisis caused by the new COVID–19 virus. Now, almost a year later, schools are starting to reopen, and many aspects of life are still not back to how they were before the pandemic. “I miss being around people and seeing people I don’t always talk to and making memories at school,” said Anya Peruvemba ‘23. Despite desiring normalcy, Peruvemba has enjoyed the extra time that has come with online school, as it has allowed her to put extra focus on school and her family. But, the year–long crisis has not come without plenty of challenges. Peruvemba said, “We just have to work with what we’ve got,” referencing the struggles accompanied with online school and trying to practice soccer amidst the constantly changing health protocols. “After COVID–19, there were so many changes we had to make and they were really fast and rapid changes, so [I’ve learned to] adapt to the world around me and just be prepared for anything,” said Peruvemba.

There have been a lot of challenges, but we have adapted in that we are still trying to produce the same quality [year]book. It has just been a lot of brainstorming new material in terms of student life." – Saivee Ahuja Other students such as Saivee Ahuja ‘22 have found various ways to fill the empty days. She has spent time painting and cooking, noting that the time at home has given her ample time to practice and improve in both areas in addition to helping her in everyday life.

SIX FEET APART: (above) Cones mark required social–distancing for players at Eagles Soccer Club. Due to COVID–19 restrictions, players and coaches must maintain a six foot distance, masks must be worn on and off the field and coaches must wear masks during practices. PLAYTIME ON PAUSE: (left) The swing set in the kindergarten play yard at Lang Ranch Elementary is wrapped in caution tape to prevent its use during recess breaks to help contain the spread of COVID–19. Other safety measures are also present as part of the reopening plan.

“It has made me more willing to take on new things, and I don’t feel as much hesitation with new opportunities,” said Ahuja. After a year of isolation, Ahuja has come to appreciate many of the everyday aspects of life such as school and the social interaction it offers and notes that “there were simple things I took for granted.” However, online school has created a new set of unprecedented challenges for Ahuja: creating and designing a yearbook. Trying to get people to help her with photoshoots and interviews has been one of the biggest challenges, but the staff is rising to the occasion. “There have been a lot of challenges, but we have adapted in that we are still trying to produce the same quality book,” said yearbook photography editor Ahuja. “It has just been a lot of brainstorming new material in terms of student life.” Despite the many obstacles, Ahuja says that the experiences of this past year will give her a new outlook on life. “Simple things like [cooking and painting] that I have picked up will make me look back [on this time] later on in life,” said Ahuja. The pandemic hit the entire WHS community hard but presented unique struggles to pole vaulter Paige Sommers ‘21. With the shutdown of

campus since March 2020, Sommers has struggled to find open pole vault pits she could use to practice. “Having to make adjustments for that and find ways to get training in wherever I could was pretty difficult,” said Sommers. Being a student–athlete, Sommers was challenged to find ways to keep up her skills when she couldn’t practice, but these new experiences brought her new realizations. “[I had to] make solutions out of it and not dwell on what I couldn’t do but [instead] make adjustments so I could do what I wanted to do,” said Sommers. Sommers said this time has pushed her to find the positives surrounding all of the disappointments and negativity, but she is ready to get back to a consistent routine to fill her days. For members of the WHS community this time in lockdown has taught them each something unique, but their experiences and findings will always remain a part of them. “I’ve had more time to realize how much stress and how fast–paced my life used to be,” said Peruvemba. “Sometimes, in taking a break and realizing how much the world can slow down, you can focus more on the things that matter to you. I’m going to take that for the rest of my life. FEATURE 5

WHS students choose more sustainable lifestyles In recent years, there has been more focus on an individual's environmental impact. Whether through food or fashion, WHS students are prioritizing sustainability to eliminate waste in their lives. by lindsey romano co–editor–in–chief As people continue to carry out anthropogenic processes and carelessly use items, the amount of waste that they produce depletes Earth’s resources and compromises the ability for everyone to meet their needs. Sustainability focuses on combating this waste by meeting the current needs of society without compromising future generations. Living wastefully, whether it be through the usage of many single–use products, purchase of fast fashion or consumption of a non eco–friendly diet, can have long lasting effects when it comes to the availability of natural resources. As more attention has been put on the effects of waste on the environment, many students like Green Alliance club member Noemi Lopez ‘22 are becoming aware of the importance of living a sustainable life. “Living sustainably, especially now, I feel is very important because we know where we are headed if we continue to be careless with what we buy and our actions,” said Lopez. “Although most of us can say we want to help, we don’t always realize how we’re impacting the environment directly or indirectly.” One common way WHS students are eliminating waste is through their fashion. Whether it be through thrifting or reselling old clothes, students are helping to eliminate their fashion footprint by prolonging the life of their clothes. Green Alliance club member Mia Lesser ‘24 is working to eliminate fashion waste by buying her clothes second–hand at thrift stores. Many like Lesser turn to thrift stores for their clothing after realizing that “manufacturing clothes wastes a lot of water and other resources.” Not only are students buying clothes second– hand, but many are also selling clothes they no longer want. Ava Perrino ‘21 uses Depop, an app where anyone can buy or sell second–hand or new clothing, accessories and shoes. Depop recognizes the need to eliminate fashion waste and subsequently formed an app that would allow anyone to easily sell their clothes. “[Selling second–hand] preserves the environment, creates new connections, new ideas, new hope, new action, new methods to make and experience the clothes that we wrap our bodies in,” according to Depop on why the company believes fashion sustainability is important. 6 FEATURE

Fast fashion by the numbers



of water only produce one t–shirt.



billion clothing items are bought worlwide.

Polyester based clothing items can take




of clothes donated get sold, and the rest is landfill.


Perrino first decided to start selling on Depop in seventh gtade as a way to make money. She sells “all used clothes, jewelry and shoes and sometimes clothes that [she has] sewn [herself].” Depop allows many sellers such as Perrino to not only make money but also avoid fast fashion. “There are so many brands that are fast fashion and produce their products in sweatshops, so buying from Depop limits that,” said Perrino. Another website attempting to make sustainable fashion more accessible is ThredUp. ThredUp sells second hand clothing, shoes and accessories from name brands such as Lululemon, Gucci, Gap and Anthropologie at a more affordable price. Customers can either shop and buy items they like, send in items to be resold or sign up for a “Goody Box” full of 10 surprise items based on one's style. Besides fashion, there are many other aspects in which students choose to live more sustainably. For example, Lesser eats a plant–based diet to cut her food waste. “The production of meat releases large amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and requires a lot of water,” said Lesser on her reason for the diet. A plant–based diet contributes to a significant decrease in one’s carbon footprint. Studies on livestock production have seen significant environmental impact. “The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that livestock production is responsible for 14.5 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, while other organizations like the Worldwatch Institute have estimated it could be as much as 51 percent,” according to One Green Planet.

years to decompose. Humans are now cosuming


percent more clothing than in the year 2000. GRAPHIC BY LAUREN PAK

Even for those who don’t want to make major changes to what they eat, there are many things that students can do to eliminate waste without changing their diet. Lopez has recently looked further into alternatives to make her diet more sustainable. “From what I’ve read, buying from farmers markets and local sellers is the best way to start,” said Lopez. “I’ve also recently taken interest in gardening to grow my own food.” Sustainability can truly be applied in essentially all aspects of life. A great start for those looking to form a more sustainable lifestyle is to eliminate single–use products whenever possible, especially plastic. “You can start cutting down on your plastic waste in a few simple steps: use reusable bags when you shop, ditch single-use water bottles, bags and straws and avoid products made from or packaged in plastic whenever possible (e.g., select unwrapped produce at the grocery store, shop local, cut down on online shopping),” according to the Center for Biological Diversity. When shopping for products, consider what you may or may not need, what brands may offer reusable or recyclable options and what you may be able to get second hand. Also be sure to pay attention to labels that may mark a product as more environmentally friendly. “‘Reduce, Reuse, Recycle’ may feel retro, but it’s just as important today as when the phrase was first coined,” according to the Center for Biological Diversity. “Every product we purchase has an environmental footprint, from the materials used to create it to the pollution emitted during manufacturing to the packaging that ends up in landfills.”

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Disney introduces first Southeast Asian Disney princess

Disney princess diversity timeline 1992


Pocahontas becomes the first Native American Disney princess as well as the first Disney princess to be based off of a real person.


Tiana from The Princess and the Frog becomes the first African– American Disney princess and first business–owning Disney princess.


Raya of Raya and the Last Dragon becomes the first Southeast Asian Disney princess.

Jasmine from Aladdin becomes the first non–white and first Arabic Disney princess.


Mulan is released, making Mulan the first Asian Disney princess. Mulan also began an era of powerful and independent Disney princesses.


Moana becomes the first Polynesian Disney princess and the first Disney princess of color to not end up with a man.


Raya and The Last Dragon was released on March 5, making Raya the first Southeast Asian princess with Disney's efforts to represent different cultures. by makenna norman opinion & a&e page editor Most people can recall being a little kid, watching Disney movies and wanting to be their favorite characters. For children these days, there are usually characters of different ethnicities for them to look up to, but up until the past couple of decades, these characters have been few and far between. Disney has come a long way since 1937, when Snow White became the first Disney Princess. Since then, Disney has created princesses of many different ethnicities and nationalities, with the newest one being Raya, who is of Southeast Asian descent. “I think it’s amazing that Disney is being more diverse and broadening their horizons,” said Alexandra Suchy ‘24. “I think that younger kids who are Southeast Asian are going to really look up to [Raya]. We’ve never really had such inclusive movies in the past … Kids of different nationalities are going to feel more included and stronger and feel like [they have] more of a voice.” Raya and the Last Dragon was released on March 5 in theaters and on Disney+ with premier access, which allows subscribers to watch movies before they’ve been released to all Disney+ members by paying a one time fee of $30. The movie tells the story of Raya, the daughter of the chief of fictional Kumandra. When the fantasy world of Kumandra is threatened by monsters known as the Druun, Raya journeys to find the last dragon to save her home and her people. The fantasy world of Kumandra is inspired by Southeast Asian countries such as Laos, Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia. Producer Osnat Shurer led the creative team to these countries to learn about the cultures of each, so that they could be properly represented in the movie. “The region is vast,” said Shurer in an interview with Yahoo Entertainment. “It’s got many countries; it’s got many, many cultures … We found that there was so much beauty, so much color, so many principles they shared across the whole region that would inspire an incredible fantastical world.” Representation of different nationalities and cultures has become an important part of Disney princess movies. When Aladdin was released in 1992, Jasmine became the first non–white Disney princess, after 55 years of white Disney princesses. Raya has now become the sixth Disney princess of color. “[When I was younger] I wouldn’t see any Asian

characters, and if there was one they were always a side character,” said Colette Byun ‘24. “That was kind of harsh for me, so I do really appreciate the representation.” Raya has not only become the first Disney princess representing Southeast Asian culture, but she has become another Disney princess who represents powerful female characters. Prior Disney princesses such as Mulan, Moana and Elsa have become inspirational characters for young girls because they all saved their kingdom or country, whereas in the past, the heroes were men. In Raya and the Last Dragon, Raya follows her predecessors and saves her realm instead of waiting for a man to come to the rescue. “I think [Raya and the Last Dragon] sends a good message to young girls because it’s telling them that they don’t need to be saved,” said Byun. “[Women] can do things on their own and they don’t need to rely on men.”

I think it’s amazing that Disney is being more diverse and broadening their horizons." —Alexandra Suchy While Disney princesses have become more racially and culturally diverse, there is still a lack of representation. There has yet to be an LGBTQ+ Disney princess, and the only openly LGBTQ+ Disney character so far was a minor character in one scene of Disney Pixar’s Onward. Also, Disney princesses have so far only reflected one body type, and there has never been a major protagonist who is disabled. Lia Alamillo ‘21 says they hope for more representation of different body types amongst Disney princesses. “Bodies come in all shapes and sizes and growing up, it can be really detrimental to see only one way you’re supposed to look” said Alamillo. “It can create a whole plethora of issues that could be lessened by more representation.” Although Disney hasn’t yet created Disney princesses who are part of certain underrepresented groups and communities, Raya and the Last Dragon is a notable step forward. “Although I’m not Southeast Asian myself, it’s very nice to see other people of color represented because of how much I’ve lacked that personally,” said Alamillo. “Children get to see themselves in movies now instead of having to look up to an idealized white version of somebody they want to be which for years is all we’ve had, so it's nice to have something new.”

Sia's new movie harms autistic community

Singer and songwriter Sia has been receiving backlash for her new film, Music, which offensively portrays autism. by makenna norman a & e page editor

actually nepotism because I can't do a project without [Ziegler]. I don't want to. I wouldn't make art if it didn't include her." While movies are primarily a form of entertainment, According to Insider, Sia also explained that she they can also be used as a tool to educate people about had initially cast a girl on the autism spectrum, but neurodiversity or disabilities. But this means movies when she found the experience to be “unpleasant also have the responsibility of being accurate and and stressful,” she replaced her with Ziegler. honest, and when writers or producers don’t take the “I can’t name [many] movies that have proper time to properly educate themselves on the community disabled representation,” said Sophie Atkins ‘23. they’re representing, they end up causing harm and “[Originally I thought] ‘this is great, we're finally feeding peoples’ ignorance. getting some [autistic] representation. If it’s made by The film Music, which was released on Feb. 10, has a big name like Sia then [it will] really get some been receiving criticism for its offensive portrayal of attention.’ But if you’re going to do representation, autism. The movie has been nominated for best then you have to make sure it’s done properly and the musical or comedy for the Golden Globes Awards, only way to do that was to cast an autistic actress.” much to the dismay of people who recognize how Casting someone who is not on the autism inaccurate and harmful the movie is. spectrum to play someone who is, will often "As an autistic individual, I am asking that this result in an inaccurate and insincere film is canceled," wrote Hannah Marshall on the performance. In Music, Ziegler’s performance homepage of the petition she created. "It is extremely exaggerated the mannerisms that are frequently offensive to myself and other autistic individuals. Sia used when non–autistic people mock or bully has shown no remorse for her inaccurate and hurtful autistic and other neurodivergent people. portrayal of the community." “[People on the spectrum] already have to deal Co–written and directed by singer and with so much, especially [those] who have certain songwriter Sia, Music tells the story of a young girl autistic traits like avoiding eye contact, not being named Music who is on the autism spectrum. She is able to speak clearly and getting emotionally played by dancer and actress Maddie Ziegler. Sia overwhelmed,” said Lia Alimillo ‘21. “Those justified her decision to cast Ziegler by saying that it things are seen as shady [or] suspicious in the eyes was mainly nepotism and not ableism, which is the of law enforcement. They usually don’t know how discrimination against people with disabilities. to deal with the situation so they tend to use "I realized it wasn't ableism,” said Sia according to force and things that have proved time and time Insider. “I mean, it is ableism I guess as well, but it's again to be fatal.”

There were particularly upsetting scenes in Music that depicted Ziegler being held in prone restraint, which is an incredibly controversial, traumatic and sometimes even lethal action. In response to the criticism Sia received, she removed the scenes from the film, added a warning to the beginning of the movie and posted an apology on Twitter. “I’m sorry,” said Sia, “I plan to remove the restraint scenes from all future printings. I listened to the wrong people and that is my responsibility, my research was clearly not thorough enough, not wide enough.” People who are not neurodivergent and don’t know anyone that is, often do not have the best understanding on what it means to be on the spectrum or how to react to situations similar to what was represented in the movie. Watching movies and TV shows can be educational, but if they do not portray autism accurately, it leads to more people having a lack of understanding, further isolating autisitc individuals. Sia did not educate herself properly before writing and directing Music, and that lack of understanding is transferred to viewers, many of whom were not educated on autism before watching the movie. “There are so many better sources of representation from people who are actually autistic, [with] screenwriters, actors [and] people giving input who are autistic,” said Alamillo. “You can get such a clearer view as opposed to what you’d get from the movie Sia made, and why would you watch something less accurate when you have something more accurate that’s available to you?”

Autistic representation in movies and TV shows PHOTOS COURTESY OF PUBLIC DOMAIN

Good: The Disney Pixar short film Loop features a non–verbal autistic lead, voiced by Madison Bandy who is autistic herself. Even though the short film is only nine minutes long, it is able to depict different situations that people on the autism spectrum face and show how others can respond and help. Sources:, &

Good: The 2010 film Temple Grandin is a biographical movie about Temple Grandin, a scientist and autism activist. Although Grandin is played by neurotypical Claire Danes, she is still portrayed in an accurate way, mainly because the actual Temple Grandin was heavily involved in the movie making process.

Bad: The Good Doctor depicts an autistic person as a talented surgeon and how he is discriminated against in that role, but the main character is played by non– autistic Freddie Highmore. He is similar to many autistic characters seen in Hollywood in the past, but because autism is a spectrum, there needs to be less repetition in the way autistic people are portrayed.

Bad: The Netflix original show Aytipcal is about Sam Gardner, a high school student on the autism spectrum, and his family. Sam is played by neurotypical Keir Gilchrist and frequently displays very stereotypical autistic behaviors, reflecting the ignorant belief that all autistic people are inherently awkward and insensitive. GRAPHIC BY MAKENNA NORMAN A&E 9

#FreeBritney movement exposes entertainment industry’s treatment of Spears

A new era of the #FreeBritney movement has emerged with the new Framing Britney Spears documentary. by abigail thompson

Britney Spears' timeline


y e n t i r B e e #Fr

a & e section & co–web editor–in–chief


Spears is born Dec. 2.

1998 Spears signs with Jive Records and releases "Hit Me Baby One More Time."


Spears releases her second album, Oops!... I Did It Again.


Spears gives birth to her first son, Sean.


Spears shaves her head, divorces Federline and is rushed to the hospital more than once.

2013 Spears opens her Las Vegas show, "Britney: Piece of Me."

2020 Spears' conservatorship puts her family at war with one another. Source: 12

A & E


Spears books "The Mickey Mouse Club."


Spears opens for 'N Sync on tour.


Spears marries Kevin Federline.


Spears gives birth to her second son, Jayden.

2008 Spears enters a conservatorship with her father, Jamie.

2017 The #FreeBritney movement is started.

2021 The New York Times releases Framing Britney Spears. GRAPHIC BY ABIGAIL THOMPSON

#FreeBritney … the hashtag that has sparked outrage among the public, influenced change in the entertainment industry, encouraged fans to speak out in the struggling pop star’s favor and has even issued apologies from other celebrities. This hashtag has been circling since the beginning of February due to the release of the New York Times’ documentary Framing Britney Spears on Hulu, YouTube TV and fuboTV. The film follows the career of music icon Britney Spears and details the trials and tribulations of her career whilst diving into the unfair treatment, misogyny and manipulation she was forced to endure while working in the entertainment industry. The #FreeBritney movement, which is still working to liberate Britney from the confining grasp of her father’s conservatorship, began in 2017 with Tess Barker and Barbara Gray, #FreeBritney activists, in their podcast “Britney’s Gram.” According to USA Today, being in a conservatorship means that Spears, who is 39 years old, is “not in total control of her finances and other important life decisions.” Instead, every move she makes is overseen by a conservator — who happens to be her father, Jamie Spears — which has sparked outrage from fans worldwide. With a podcast already dedicated to dissecting Spears’ social media posts weekly, both Barker and Gray had been noticing what they thought were “calls for help” or “hidden messages” within her account. Then they received a voicemail from an anonymous source, claiming to be a paralegal for an attorney who worked with Spears’ conservatorship, and exposed its wrongs and injustices. “[The voicemail] just brought to light a lot of the things we had suspected,” said Gray in the documentary. “We felt that this information should probably be shared.” It took all but one night for their announcement to gain popularity. “I still remember the exact moment the voicemail dropped and the feeling I had of ‘Oh my god, it makes sense,’” said Junior Olivas, a #FreeBritney activist, in the New York Times documentary. Once the injustices of Spears’ conservatorship and her father’s unreasonable authority over her life were exposed, so were many of the other wrongs in her life. The Framing Britney Spears film helped to navigate this. The paparazzi’s treatment of the star, for example, was one of the biggest challenges she had to face. In an interview with the Today Show’s Matt Lauer in 2006, when asked if one of her biggest wishes was for the paparazzi to leave her alone, Spears broke down. “Yeah,” Spears sobbed during the interview. “It ’s okay. I would like for them to leave me alone.” Even from a young age, she was constantly

pressed by paparazzi, talk show hosts and the public itself to talk about her appearance, style or love life rather than her flourishing career. However, Spears was possibly the most under fire when her relationship with Justin Timberlake fell apart. According to the New York Times documentary, when the news of their split was announced, Timberlake was quick to suggest that it was Spears who had been the cause. “Justin sort of made it seem, rightly or wrongly, like she had cheated on him,” said Dave Holmes, former MTV host. “It really seemed like he took control of the narrative.” Of course, the documentary only revealed Spears’ side of the story, but Timberlake still released an apology to her on social media. "I am deeply sorry for the times in my life where my actions contributed to the problem, where I spoke out of turn, or did not speak up for what was right,” Timberlake wrote. "I want to take accountability for my missteps in all of this as well as be part of a world that uplifts and supports." With the added pressure of society, the entertainment industry, the paparazzi and more, Spears’ “big meltdown” in 2007 damaged her carefully–constructed image. Already in a custody battle with her ex–husband for her two kids, Spears also shaved her head, lashed out at the paparazzi and was dealing with health issues that resulted in numerous hospital visits. These scandals were what inspired Jamie Spears’ request for conservatorship and pushed the court to grant it. And although Spears has made a strong comeback since then, she has always made it painfully clear that she didn't felt comfortable with her father as her conservator. “If I wasn’t under the restraints that I’m under right now, with all the lawyers and doctors and people analyzing me every day, I’d feel so liberated and feel like myself,” Spears said in her MTV documentary, Britney: For the Record. With the help of Spears’ closest friends, Barker and Gray’s podcast and now the New York Times’ documentary, Framing Britney Spears, the public has finally been exposed to and can empathize with her side of the story. “The idea that people could look at [Britney’s struggles] and only see a crazy person just tells me what a vulturous society she was working with to begin with,” said Wesley Morris of the New York Times in the film. Although it would be easy to blame her mental state for all the bad that she has experienced, the new Framing Britney Spears documentary has succeeded in exposing some of the deep–rooted problems with society’s treatment of celebrities to begin with. With the help of this newly released film, fans and other supporters are calling for justice, condemning the industry’s treatment of women and showing their support to Spears, promising to liberate her from the conservatorship in which she is trapped. “#FreeBritney” represents a change in society’s views of Spears herself, as well as higher expectations from the entertainment industry.

WHS talks prom for Class of 2021 As WHS blended students began their return to campus this past week, the Class of 2021 has restored hope that the most important senior event — prom — is still a possibility. Hosting a prom with COVID–19 precautions would allow seniors to gain a sense of normalcy, restore social skills and provide closure to their high school career. commentary by songhee lee, lauren pak & lindsey romano

Staff Poll



Q: If permitted, should WHS hold a COVID–19 safe prom?

for: 11 against: 2 abstain: 0

students haven’t seen a large portion of their class in a year. Thus, prom would provide an event where seniors could catch up with each other, especially when since many will be in different places next year. Without a school event like prom, the closing of schools last March might have been seniors' last goodbyes to many of their classmates. Prom would give an opportunity to find out everyone’s plans for next year and give a proper goodbye before they all leave WHS. Plus, the fact that the Class of 2021 has not been able to fully see each other since last March means a prom night would be even more special. Not only would it give seniors an unforgettable night many people talk about for years to come, but they would be reunited as a class for the first time in over a year, adding an extra level of importance to the event — even a sense of nostalgia. Prom is important for the connections it will bring for the seniors but also the sense of normalcy it will bring to senior year. Each year, we have watched as seniors went through all the fun traditions to mark their last year at WHS and have anxiously looked forward to our turn. For this year’s seniors, it has been one disappointment after another as they miss each tradition. First it was missing out on running into the gym with senior crowns, then missing their last homecoming, and now many are fearful for their


Whether it be from family, past upperclassmen or older friends, it’s likely that everyone has heard all about the unforgettable night that is prom. From the glamorous looks to dancing through the night barefoot and getting In–n–Out at 3 a.m, prom night is something almost anyone recalls for the rest of their life. Seeing how COVID–19 has halted the class of 2021 from enjoying the entirety of their senior year, it’s not improbable to assume that prom night is just another experience, or lack thereof, added to the list. However, prom is something that the Class of 2021 deserves and with a few adjustments, specifically wearing a mask and finding a larger venue (preferably outside for ventilation), it can be a completely safe opportunity to provide some type of closure to seniors' four years at WHS. The probable solution to hosting a COVID–19 safe prom would be to find an outdoor venue where students are able to socially distance themselves at least six feet away according to the CDC guidelines. Mandating masks, setting up sanitation stations and stations to wash hands would be small but effective steps to make a large gathering like prom safer. In addition, making tickets available through a website or ticketing app would reduce physical contact to a minimum. Enforcing the importance of following social distancing guidelines will allow for a safer prom for everyone. And to the students who choose not to attend prom, hosting a virtual gathering can be just as memorable. A simple way to create a mock prom would be to dress up as if you were attending prom, but instead, meet online with friends and enjoy a night following the same routine as if you were all at prom in person. Snack on all the sweet and savory foods and dance until your feet are sore. For a calmer night, using apps such as Zoom or Netflix Party allow seniors to share their screen and binge watch all their favorite movies and TV shows with friends. Simply celebrating this night meant for seniors is perfect enough, whether at home or not. With school only recently opening and with many students still on a remote schedule, most

end of the year events. With theme parks just starting to talk of opening up, grad night seems off of the table, and there is little predictability in the type of graduation wseniors are going to have. Prom could be a planned out event, and it has genuine potential as an event to be planned for seniors. From first stepping foot on campus during WOW week, to bracing themselves for in–class essays and speeches, to grinding through AP classes, standardized tests and college apps, to winning a much deserved rally last year, and dealing with the worst case of "senioritis" amidst a pandemic (you can imagine how bad the lack of motivation is over Zoom), the Class of 2021 has truly been through it all. And though it is understood that administration, teachers and parents are doing their best to accommodate the seniors given the current state of the world, the Class of 2021 deserves closure — not just a drive–by graduation. With a COVID–19 safe prom, seniors could give those classroom acquaintances one last head nod, they could feel the excitement of picking out their outfits and getting ready with their friends one last time and they could make memories that are sure to be remembered (good or bad). Though seniors will all be heading their separate ways starting June 10, 2021, they would like the chance to re–ignite their Warrior spirit, if COVID–19 permits. EDITORIAL 13

Cancel culture doesn’t work The concept of canceling a person, like someone would an online order or a streaming service subscription for being problematic, has become extremely prevalent in recent times. While it might seem sensible in some cases, it's not as practical as it may look.

Cancel culture. You may have seen or heard this phrase pop up before, possibly in an article or a conversation with a friend. Maybe you’ve even seen or heard about someone getting canceled firsthand. One thing’s for sure though, and it's that cancel culture has become highly talked about with the rise of social media in recent years. According to, “‘Cancel culture’ refers to the popular practice of withdrawing support for (or canceling) public figures and companies after they have done or said something considered objectionable or offensive.” Cancel culture typically happens online, as it can only work if a large amount of people agree to go through with it, and the internet is the easiest way to spread the word and get people to join the cause. While the concept does have good intentions, cancel culture has some pretty glaring flaws that counteract its intended purpose. Because it doesn’t give people a second chance, paints most situations it's used in as black and white and rarely helps people learn from their mistakes, cancel culture overall does more harm than good. Some may say that canceling e 16 OPINION

people or what they’ve said helps stop them and their ideas, but it doesn’t truly address the problem. While these people may not be able to spread these ideas as easily, they can still hold them and not be truly held accountable for their actions. In the end, all canceling people really does is tell them not to say, do or think that way because if they do, they will get canceled. They are not shown what they did wrong and why, which does not allow them to learn from their mistakes and does not help them improve from their wrongdoings. Instead, targets of cancel culture tend to keep their previously offensive beliefs, though they aren’t able to publicly announce them. Cancel culture also doesn’t give people any chance at redemption. Once someone gets canceled, it's nearly impossible for them to undo it, as it leaves no room for people to bring back their support for the person that was canceled. Another thing cancel culture does is it looks at situations through a very narrow lens. It tends to represent problems as one sided, a “good versus bad” scenario, when there is usually more to it than that. Things aren’t always a matter of what's good or what's bad, as there are many other factors that can make that line blurred. “The instant nature of social ee

Cancel culture isn't necessarily a new concept. In fact, cancel culture and other forms of public shaming have been around for centuries, all with the same idea of putting shame on a person or group for their actions. Some, like cancel culture, were used to stop the support of others. Some were even used as criminal punishment. Though there are many forms, the majority of them were not very pleasant.


commentary by harrison weinberg opinion page editor

Did you know?

THE PILLORY: A painting made by Thomas Rowlandson depicting a mob surrounding two men in a pillory in London.

For example, the pillory was a medieval punishment device made up of wooden boards with holes where the hands and head of the person subject to the punishment would go through. They were forced to stand in this uncomfortable position while the public could go up and humiliate them however they pleased. Source:


media means that very large, complicated social issues get condensed into one sentence, one minute for TikTok [videos] or just a photo on Instagram,” said Amanda Koontz, University of Central Florida associate professor of sociology. “Everything is becoming very [brief], and it both discourages nuanced discussion and encourages all–or–nothing stances. Cancel culture is ‘You’re all good, or you’re all bad,’ and human nature is much more complicated than that."

Cancel culture isn't inherently bad. It sounds reasonable on paper and can possibly work under certain circumstances. Instead of canceling others, however, people could try talking to them and figure things out in a civil manner, which would solve the issues that cancel culture brings. But, because of its failure to teach and give people another chance as well as its one sided nature, cancel culture really just doesn’t work.

Benefits of block scheduling 2 Better mental

1 Better

relationships between students and faculty

health for students due to decreased stress

3 More time for

hobbies and extracurricular activities


WHS should maintain distance learning block schedule commentary by soumya monga feature section editor Your lecture ends 10 minutes earlier than expected, and you start working on the homework for that day during class as the teacher instructed. At 2:30 p.m., you log off your Zoom call and go for a jog outside since you only have, at most, two hours of homework that day. As you run, you remember your school days last year: six–hour days, up to seven classes, four hours of homework and sports practice. With that thought, you realize online school might not be so bad. According to Business Insider, the average American student spends approximately 6–and–a– half hours at school each day. Although online school is supposed to be the same length, the reality is that reinforcement time during distance learning is just more time for students to spend doing activities that improve their physical, emotional and mental well–being. Thus, WHS should maintain a form of the schedule it implemented during COVID–19 for future years even after the pandemic ends. It is no secret that high school can be stressful. It can oftentimes be difficult to juggle six different classes (in some cases more) and a slew of other extracurricular activities. For this very reason, having three classes at a time is beneficial for students to focus more on the classes they are currently taking. This schedule resembles a block schedule that a few high schools and colleges have already been implementing such as Oak Park High School for example. A block schedule was also proposed for WHS during the 2018–19 school year but was declined. However, a block schedule format similar

Despite the challenges that have come from distance learning, WHS should continue to maintain the current school schedule for future years.

to the one WHS is currently using, with some changes, is much better for students because of the mental health and educational benefits. “The number of daily classes for which students and teachers must adjust and prepare is decreased [in a block schedule], allowing students to develop the deeper interpersonal relationships that are integral to academic success,” according to Brown University in an article about block scheduling. Fewer classes per day provides both students and teachers with opportunities to form more relationships both outside and inside the classroom. For example, longer class periods allow for teachers to get to know their students’ personalities and learning styles which is not only beneficial for the students at the time but also for the letter of recommendation portion of college applications. Additionally, according to a Stanford research on the pitfalls of homework by Denise Pope, “Students were more likely to drop activities, not see friends or family and not pursue hobbies they enjoy [because of homework].” Thus, the greater time for other activities besides school decreases stress in students and improves their mental health as they are not constantly bombarded with schoolwork. This time acts as independent time which can be utilized according to a student’s needs, making block scheduling more flexible and customizable for each student. A concern students have had with the three– class schedule during distance learning, however, is the lack of instruction towards the end of the year for AP classes. Because each quarter only focuses on three classes, the classes in the last quarter will not have as many class periods as the classes in quarter three before the AP exams.

This can be fixed by alternating class periods each day instead of every quarter. For example, if on Monday students had periods 1, 3 and 5, on Tuesday they would have 2, 4 and 6. This is similar to the schedule WHS uses during final exams week. Through this, we are using an approach with the structure of the distance learning schedule with added benefits taken from a block schedule approach to allow for ample instructional time.

Students were more likely to drop activities, not see friends or family and not pursue hobbies they enjoy [because of homework].” –Denise Pope The benefit of this approach is that students and faculty are able to still gain the advantages of a three–class schedule such as greater interpersonal relationships and decreased stress while also getting properly prepared for the AP exam because instructional time is split between the six classes. Implementing such a schedule allows for a smoother transition from distance learning to traditional in–person learning. Online school may not have been the best thing; however, WHS should still implement its positives and learn from its negatives in order to have the best possible educational experience because block schedules create an environment that helps each member of the WHS community. OPINION 17

Fast stats: student mental health

In Fall 2020, two–thirds of both high school and college students surveyed reported an increase in supporting others with mental health issues. 39% of students in college experience a serious mental health issue. 75% of U.S. high school students expressed boredom, sadness, anger, fear or stress while in school. 67% of people age 18–24 with anxiety or depression do not seek treatment.

Sources: &


WHS lacks emotional support With the extraordinary changes of the past year, WHS mental health support should have adjusted to better assist students. While some attempts have been made to help, they have ultimately been inadequate and ineffective. commentary by sophie robson opinion section editor As you blink away the bleariness of sleep, your eyes try to focus on the too–bright computer screen in front of you. The teacher is droning on about equations and you’re supposed to be taking notes, but it’s Wednesday morning and far too early to be doing school. Class ends and you sign off of your Zoom for the day, only to remember the Wellness Wednesday Check–In you’re asked to fill out every week. You skim through the form — randomly clicking Amazing and Slept Great without even fully considering the questions — and promptly shut your computer, get back into bed and sleep some more. I bet this isn’t the reality that WHS imagined when they created the Wednesday Check–In. However, it is definitely the situation they’re facing. Mental health support at WHS is significantly lacking and while some attempts have been made to improve it, the small steps are still not enough. In order to better support students, WHS needs to implement better services, help reduce the stigma around mental illness and provide education for both students and staff. Recently, WHS created a voluntary Google form for all students to fill out every Wednesday regarding their current mental wellbeing. Students need far more support than a once a week optional Google form, though it is a good start to providing this necessary support. While a part of this issue may be students not taking the form seriously, it is still up to the school to ask 18 OPINION

more than four surface–level, non– encompassing questions. One resource CVUSD has provided is the Wellness Room, a website that is “a safe space for students to take a break, rest and refocus.” With links to calming sounds, lessons on mindfulness and zoo animal cams, this site is definitely a good starting point for mental health aids, but not a good resource for support. The distinction here is that these aids provide some relief for students who feel stressed, but students who are actually mentally ill could not use these things for support — they need counselors, therapists or social workers. Moreover, many students irregularly or rarely check their school email, the primary place this resource is advertised, so this source of relief must be better publicized to reach more students. However, one huge part of this issue that must be considered is the stigma around mental illness which contributes to student’s not using the resources outlined above. While mental health is a huge issue among this generation, the stigma around it still remains. One way to help reduce the stigma would be providing more education on mental health at WHS. Though one might argue that the topic was touched on in Health class, mental health should not only be discussed in the classroom setting. Due to the highly pressured academic nature of WHS, students being introduced to mental health with assignments and tests is not an effective way to provide them the information they need. Moreover, this causes students to see the classwork — and the Wellness questionnaire for

that matter — as just another school assignment that they need to either get done with or perform well on. This does not effectively teach students to promote mental health over academics. In fact, it does the opposite. According to an American Psychological Association survey, 42% of teens reported “they were not doing enough or were not sure if they were doing enough to manage their stress” and 13% “said they never set aside time to manage stress.” The competitive academic environment at WHS specifically is a high pressure system that, at times, feels as though it's just a matter of time before students erupt. If the stress around academics — especially with exams, Honors and AP classes — was alleviated and students were given more free time to actually enjoy their lives outside of homework and studying, student’s mental health would significantly improve. Additionally, WHS must provide more training to teachers and parents, as they will ultimately be the ones helping their children through mental health issues. In order to better aid students’ mental health, WHS needs to supply more resources that are better suited to students, help reduce the stigma around mental illness and relieve some academic stress. In the meantime, however, replying honestly to Wednesday Wellness Check–Ins and visiting the CVUSD Wellness Room are both decent ways to get support and destress, d-wellness-room/home.


HARD AT WORK: Coach Guzman looks on as the winter guard team holds their weekly Tuesday practice in the quad. On Fridays, they are able to practice on the football field. However, since not all members can join in–person practices, the other members send them videos of the choreography until they are able to attend.

Winter guard competes virtually Due to COVID–19, the majority of school sports have had to adjust in some way, whether it's starting the season later than usual or holding practices over Zoom. For the WHS winter guard team, their competition has switched to a mostly online format. by angela ling graphics & co–news section editor The WHS winter guard team cannot compete in–person this year because of the COVID–19 pandemic, so they are instead having a virtual competition season. For virtual competition, the team met in– person to film their choreographed show and submitted it online to the Winter Guard Association of Southern California circuit to be judged. The WHS winter guard team placed first for their first event on Feb. 27. They filmed their show on Friday, Feb. 19, performing to the song "Clown" by Emeli Sandé. "The students put on their costumes, they do their hair and makeup as if it were a normal competition and we just record it," said winter guard coach Rob Guzman. WGASC events take place on Saturdays, but teams are required to upload their videos before midnight the Monday prior to the actual event. The following week, teams receive commentary and placements from the judges. In preparation for competition, winter guard

has been meeting for in–person practices from 3:30–6:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and Fridays starting in December, though they had to meet online during winter break because of high COVID–19 case numbers. However, students on winter guard had some difficulty adjusting to the new practice format because of the online Zoom meetings. "It was definitely a lot more difficult because the way we do things is very much technical," said winter guard co–captain Michelle Zheng '23. "But we adjusted by just figuring out where to position our cameras to get the best instruction." For their in–person practices, as well as when they film shows for competition, members are required to wear masks at all times. "Honestly it wasn’t as hard as I thought it was going to be," said winter guard member Elora Bacon '23. "I kind of got used to wearing a mask all the time." Social distancing also isn't an issue for the team because their flags prevent them from getting too close to one another. However, members are not allowed to exchange any equipment this year, meaning they can't include certain moves in their show like flag tosses to each other.

Though practices are still in–person, many other aspects of winter guard are different from previous years, like how the team bonds. "Something that I miss from last year is that we would always spend a lot of time [together] going to competition," said Zheng. "We [would] do hair and makeup together." Though the team can't spend as much time together this year as in previous years, they still find other ways to bond through playing games online. "Especially when we were online only, every Friday we would host a little game night chat together [where] we would just play Among Us," said Zheng. Virtual winter guard does have its benefits, though. Submitting a recording of their show means that they can have multiple takes and choose their best one. "Virtually, if we make a mistake, we can easily just start over again," said Guzman. "It kind of takes a little bit of the pressure off the students, versus in–person where they only get one shot." Winter guard's next competition dates are on March 20, 27 and April 10, and their championship competition is on April 24. SPORTS 19

WHS cross country powers through pandemic The COVID–19 pandemic has caused the WHS cross country team to make major changes to its competitive season.

The future of the WHS cross country team is looking bright. Its season has been extended from the traditional fall timeframe to the spring, and despite ever–changing regulations, the team has continued to train throughout the school year. “During the summer, we were meeting with the freshmen, then we had to take a little bit of a break from meeting in person, so we did have Zoom meetings, and those lasted until roughly October,” said cross country and track coach Chad Scott. “Then we were able to have team practices again, and so those lasted until the week before winter break.” After that, the team went back to Zoom meetings for a couple of months, until they returned to full team practices in early February. “The California Department of Public Health has issued Youth Sports Guidance,” according to “Youth sports training, conditioning and physical education is now permitted in Ventura County when those activities include continuous physical distancing of at least six feet and a stable cohort.” Now, the team has been able to meet for in– person practice four times a week.

"We’ve had basically a mixture of in–person as well as Zoom meetings” said Scott. “Thankfully, our sport lends itself to autonomous practices, so students can basically get them done on their own, or they may choose to meet up in small groups to get a run done.” Students have met up in groups to train together, often running on trails or in neighborhoods. In fact, a lot of them find it motivating to have someone else there to encourage them to keep going. However, as important as training is, one of the most special parts of cross country is the races. "We’re only allowed to race against one other team right now, but it’s still really exciting because we haven’t raced for a year and now we’re going to get that opportunity,” said varsity co– captain Ruby Sirota–Foster ‘21. The team has begun to have a couple of duel races in early March, with an upcoming race on March 17 against Newbury Park High School at the Peppertree Playfields. The races are one of the main aspects of the sport, and are often looked upon with fond memories by the students. "I don’t even remember all my times [and] how I did at all the races, but I remember cheering on my teammates and hearing them cheer for me,” said Sirota–Foster. “That camaraderie is something really special to the sport.”


by vivian stein sports & opinion page editor

RUNNING WITH A VIEW: Ruby Sirota–Foster runs through a field while training after the school closure in March 2020. Since cross country races often take place over rough terrain — on trails, uneven ground and hills — team members frequently train in the same conditions.

With constantly changing guidelines, the best that the WHS cross country teams can do is remain hopeful to continue long–time traditions such as races. “New guidelines just came out [Feb. 19] from the California Department of Public Health, and [they are] paving a way for more sports to be able to have some type of competitive season,” said Scott. “Right now, I think the most positive thing is that we’re starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel.”

WHS tennis bounces back after COVID–19 challenges

Despite challenges regarding meeting in–person, the WHS tennis teams have surmounted unforseen obstacles.

The WHS tennis team has been busy this year — with Zoom meetings, team matches and individual tournaments. “Youth sports organizations are turning to new guidelines released by the California Department of Health last month for direction,” according to “The updated rules allow all youth sports leagues to hold outdoor, socially distanced practices regardless of any state or regional stay–home orders.” The WHS tennis teams began to meet in–person on March 1 and now have matches on Mondays and Wednesdays. Both the varsity and JV teams meet for matches against other high schools in the county, mainly NPHS and TOHS. However, before the teams began to meet in– person, they did Zoom meetings for almost a year. “I get a report from everybody as to what they’re doing during that hour and a half that they’re supposed to be with me for Zoom,” said tennis coach Scott Yasgoor. “If they weren’t at Zoom, or if they weren’t checked in for attendance [because] they went 20 SPORTS

to play tennis [at the courts] then what they did [there].” To bring some variety into the virtual meetings, Yasgoor brought in a friend of his, a third degree black belt in martial arts. She taught the students martial arts once a week, from September to Dec. 15. This unique training allowed for the team members to practice a different kind of fitness. However, because tennis is an individual sport, team members have also been able to practice and compete on their own, outside of school. “I compete a lot; I take a few lessons every week, I train on my own, [and] I play with other people,” said varsity player Essence Wang ‘22. “I’ve been playing tournaments over the weekends now too.” In total, there are six tennis players at WHS that have been going to tournaments. Although they are allowed to play, there are a lot of restrictions in place to ensure the safety of everyone involved. "It used to be that you just walk up to the site, anybody can come, anybody can watch [and] there’s a general gathering area,” said Wang. “Now only players can go in, players have to have masks unless they’re on the court, and [there are] virtual check–ins.”


by vivian stein sports & opinion page editor

PRE–PANDEMIC SUCCESS: The WHS girls varsity tennis team took 2nd place in all of Southern/Central California at regional championships last season.

Apart from individual performances at tournaments and team matches against other high schools in the county, most WHS tennis players still train on their own or in small groups at local parks and clubs. After a long year of being apart, having tennis matches again has proven to be very motivating for the players. "Being able to interact with [my] teammates and coaches, whether it be over Zoom or in–person, helps a lot," said varsity co–captain Elina Vaidya '21. I also found talking to teammates and trying to motivate each other to play with each other was great."

Profile for The Westlake Arrow

The Arrow March 2021  

The Arrow is written and created by the Advanced Journalism staff at Westlake High School in Thousand Oaks, CA.

The Arrow March 2021  

The Arrow is written and created by the Advanced Journalism staff at Westlake High School in Thousand Oaks, CA.


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